Category Archives: High Park Fire

Something Good

we have tomatoes!

In putting together today’s list, I am going back through about 150+ old emails that have accumulated over the past month to find the good stuff I can share. The good news for me is that by the end, I’ll have caught up with my email, for about five minutes…
 
1. This quote from Pema Chödrön: “When we practice meditation we are strengthening our ability to be steadfast with ourselves. No matter what comes up – aching bones, boredom, falling asleep, or the wildest thoughts and emotions – we develop a loyalty to our experience.” The month we were gone, I relaxed my meditation practice, wasn’t sitting as often as I typically do (I try to maintain a daily practice, even if all I can do is ten minutes). Now that we are back home in Colorado, I am trying to get back into my normal routine, and quotes like this help, reinforcing my intention, my reason for practice: to develop a loyalty to my experience, to myself.

2. In related good news, this quote from Susan Piver: “your meditation practice is the most helpful tool there is for finding your own voice. As you relax with yourself exactly as you are, insights arise and observations occur. You see how your mind works, what makes it open and what causes it to shut down. There is nothing you have to do to accrue such observations–except to sit, slow down, and look yourself–this precious, wonderful, brilliant, one-of-a-kind being–right in the eye.” This was from an email through the Open Heart Project, Practitioner level, which is also, with love and wisdom, helping me reestablish my daily practice.

3. The $100 Investment: How One Person Really Can Change the World by Lissa Rankin. I am still trying to decide what to do with the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit, and am loving hearing other people’s ideas.

4. When The Fires Came For Us by Laura Pritchett. Local author’s personal story about the High Park Fire.

5. Start small, but start from Patti Digh at 37Days. Such loving wisdom. Spot on. Her Thinking Thursday post this past week was also packed full of amazingness.

6. Anne Lamott has a new book coming out!

7. The Next Right Action on Scoutie Girl. More wisdom about getting moving, “you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.”

8. “What is saving your life right now?” I am in love with this question, which I found by way of Lindsey on A Design So Vast, who was sharing something from a post on Saray Bessey’s blog.

9. Two good posts from Life is Limitless: Be honest, be true, be you and What writing can reveal.

10. Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence on Brain Pickings.

11. Shedding a Little Light on Carry It Forward. Especially this part:

It’s easier, of course, to hate. So much easier. And as we are human beings living in a fast paced, stress filled world, easier often wins.

Bringing love and light to the world is hard work. It involves courage, bravery, and standing on your own two feet. Not easy.

And yet? In the end, it’s what will lead us out.

Amen.

12. 3 Bear Cubs Rescued from Dumpster. You most likely already saw this, but just in case, I don’t want you to miss it.

13. Okay, confession time: I only made it through about 50 emails, but I need to be done now, can’t do this any longer (it is lunch time and there are dogs to be walked, week old unpacking that still needs done, along with some organizing and purging), so I will leave you with this adorable picture of my friend Theresa’s dog, Mr. Wilson. Theresa is a pet groomer with a great little shop in Stayton, Oregon, and if you live in the area and need dog grooming, you should totally go there: D’-Tail Pet Grooming. She’s one of the few people I know that is as nuts about dogs as I am.

mr. wilson, “stuffed chair”

Gratitude Friday


This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Our visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. A break from the smoke, the worry about the fire, a gorgeous location and lovely long walk, and the fact that I am lucky enough to not only have a husband who will consent to going, but who had the idea in the first place and enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.

2. Being able to open the window over my desk this morning and listen to the birds as I wrote. The fire is no where near gone (in fact, they’ve said that while they will be able to eventually contain it, it most likely won’t stop burning altogether until the first snow), but the wind had shifted and the air cleared enough that me and the birds of dawn could hang out together this morning. I had missed them.

3. Walking the dogs with Eric. Because it’s summer, vacation time, we can do this more often, and I really enjoy it.

4. Danielle Ate the Sandwich CD Release Party. As always, she was adorable and funny, not to mention incredibly talented, and put on a great show. I finally worked up the courage to talk to her, and even though I had a whole story prepared to explain, remind her who I was, to help her remember, I only had to say “Hi, Danielle. I swore this time I would talk to you” and she said “Are you Jill?” and hugged me. There was a caricature artist working there that night, so I had him draw my picture. If you ever wondered what I’d look like as a cartoon, here it is. He totally got the hair right.

5. My meditation practice, and the Open Heart Project (Practitioner Level). I needed extra support this week, it was more important than usual to have a method for manifesting sanity when my experience feels less than sane, and these two things gave me just that. I am so profoundly grateful, for the practice, the guidance, and the community.

6. How good people can be to each other in hard times. When I was at the park yesterday afternoon walking the dogs there were two girls selling paintings and taking donations to help with the High Park Fire, I heard multiple stories of fire fighters and community members (many of them women) saving homes (one woman’s home was saved three different times), the Fort Collins Shambhala Center sangha stepped in to feed and house staff evacuated from the Shambhala Mountain Center, and community members are dropping baked goods off at CSU for the firefighters to grab on their way through. It made me think of this, one of my favorite quotes from Anne Frank:

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us, too. I can feel the suffering of millions – and yet, if I look to the heavens, I think it will come out all right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

Bonus Joy: In one week, we are leaving to drive to Oregon and settle in to our little house on the beach in Waldport, “where the forest meets the sea.” Just thinking about it makes me happy, and I’m ready to go. I love Colorado, the sun and the land and our little house and my life here, it really is where I should live…but the truth is that half of my heart, no matter where else the rest might be, stays on this long stretch of beach, looking at the water and listening to the lullaby of the waves.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie’s post

What belongings do you wish for?

The three smaller things I’d been wanting have either arrived or are on their way: a new clip-on watch, brown Birkenstock sandals, and an iTouch (so I can use the instagram app).

And if I really let myself go crazy, with no concern for money or practicality or actual need, I could wish for: real wood book shelves, real wood bedroom dressers, a sectional big enough for two adult humans and two bigger dogs to comfortably lounge on, a black Ibex Shak fullzip jacket to replace the one I lost, a whole long list of books and cds, a white fine tipped Sharpie pen, a smart phone, a light but super fast laptop with lots of storage space, two new cars, a “real” stand up desk, a treadmill and elliptical, a house with an even bigger yard (and bigger kitchen that opened onto a family room, a basement, a two car garage, and an on-suite master bathroom), a custom designed wedding ring, and an entire wardrobe of clothes that fit well and looked good and were comfortable and well made and of good quality.

But the reality is, I don’t really need or want any of those things. My furniture is fine, new gadgets would be fun for a time but wouldn’t really change my quality of life, I love our little house and enjoy not having a car payment, and the simple band I wear on my ring finger is fine with me because my marriage is custom designed.

There are, however, a few things we probably need, belongings I could wish for: a new dishwasher, a load of top soil and some slate for our landscaping project in the front yard, a new toilet in our back bathroom, (ugh…I am so tired of having to hold the handle down until the bowl is completely empty for the thing to flush with any margin of functionality), and a good running bra.

My problem is that I don’t like shopping. I like looking at thrift, book, or office supply stores, or in a garden center, but most other shopping is too disappointing, too depressing. It robs me of precious time and money, and usually even if I can find something, it’s barely a match, a poor substitute for what I really wanted, and in the end, is only temporarily satisfying.

I actually wish for fewer belongings. I wish to unstuff, unload, simplify, declutter, live more with less.

What I’ve been thinking about these days are what belongings I’d save from a fire. I can’t help it, can’t escape the fire that’s burning out of control here, only 15 miles from my house. As of this morning, it was only 10% contained, has burned 46,600 acres, 118 structures (18 have been confirmed to be homes), and continues to grow, and while they hope to fully contain it in the near future, they believe they’ll be fighting it until fall. So you see, my mind right now is more on making a frantic mental list of the potential for loss.

I have many things I love and treasure: shelves and shelves of books, my purple sweater with the ruffles, my black Chaco flip-flops and Sanita clogs, multiple cds and movies, my favorite pens and art supplies, various down throw blankets, special coffee mugs, my favorite spoons, my computer, the teak Buddha that sits on my shrine, my Tibetan Mountain seat meditation cushion, my shell and rock collections, my stuffed monkeys, etc.–but these could all be replaced, repurchased, refound.

There are things however that are precious to me, that could never be replaced. They would be forever lost to me if they burned. My journals, old pictures that haven’t been scanned, love letters from Eric, my grandpa’s fedora, an afghan my grandmother knit, so many quilts my aunt made, the khata scarf that hangs over my shrine, Obi’s ashes and collar, the antique Asian panels by our bed, my baby blanket, letters and cards and pictures from loved ones, drawings and art projects my nieces made when they were younger, a vase and bowl that belonged to my great-grandma, and ice cream bowls we used at my grandma’s house when we were kids.

And yet, in the end, no thing truly belongs to us and everything will eventually be lost. I can’t quite explain it, but to me this is a kind of good news. It’s one brutally true thing about life, something we can count on–eventually, all will be lost. Throughout this changing and shifting, coming together and falling apart, there is belonging, there is love, and there is basic goodness, so my truest wish is that we can all experience that love and belonging and basic goodness, that we know it and trust it, and are able to let go of the rest when that time comes.